Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and MRC chairman L. Brent Bozell at the launch of MRC Latino at the Newseum in Washington. (Media Research Center)
) -- Republicans need to work harder to convey their empathy to Hispanic voters, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Tuesday, but that may be difficult due to the strong bias against conservatives in the Spanish-language media, according to a new report released by the Media Research Center (MRC)
"Until we get to that point, they're not going to listen to our message," Rand said at the launch of MRC Latino, a project to expose the liberal bias of Univision and Telemundo, the top two Spanish-language sources of news for many Hispanics in the U.S.
"Conservatives talk about how Big Government never seems to work. Well, Big Government is not good with the visa system either," Paul told attendees at a symposium in Washington, adding that "there should be some meeting in the middle" between Democrats and Republicans in Congress over immigration reform.
"We might agree on 50 percent of the issues," he pointed out.
"I think if we are to change people's attitudes towards conservatives, or in my perspective the Republican Party, there are two things you have to do. Number one, you have to show up, and secondly, you have to have something to say," not only to Hispanics, but to the working class and African American communities as well.
Outreach to these traditionally Democratic groups has "an enormous upside," he said, but added that "we have to show we're for something and not just be the party of deportation."
"The Republican Party can't win until we look like the rest of America," Paul told the gathering, adding that because conservatives tend to "see people as individuals rather than classes, in some ways we've ignored the ways they live in groups."
Noting that "tone" is as important as content in the politically-charged immigration debate, Rand said that "the Latino community will not hear us until we get beyond this issue."
But MRC's latest research
shows that conservatives have an uphill battle expressing either their values or their empathy on Univision and Telemundo, which have over three million viewers nationwide.
A landmark study released by MRC Latino director Ken Oliver-Mendez at the Newseum Tuesday found that of 667 domestic news stories reported on the two networks between Nov. 1, 2013 and Feb. 28, 2014, 324 (49 percent) were presented in a balanced or neutral fashion.
However, of the remaining 343 stories, 300 (43 percent) tilted toward the left, compared to just 43 (6 percent) that leaned to the right.
"Conservatives were seven times as likely to be labeled as liberals," Oliver-Mendez added, while left-leaning commentators were three times as likely to be interviewed as their right-leaning counterparts.
The two Spanish-language networks also did not report on any of the Obama administration scandals, including Benghazi and the IRS targeting of conservative groups, the four-month study found.
Even the disastrous roll-out of Obamacare was depicted favorably, with advocates outnumbering conservative opponents by a 5-to-1 margin, he said.
Noting that MRC, which is the parent company of CNSNews.com, is "non-partisan but conservative," MRC president Brent Bozell said that "there really is no such thing as pure objectivity unless you've had a lobotomy.
"The question is not whether you have a bias, but whether you can keep that bias in check...and make an effort to get the other side of the story," Bozell said.
Bozell accused Univision and Telemundo of "failing to live up to the most basic journalistic standard - report the news without a pervasive partisan slant."
But he agreed with Paul that "the conservative movement needs to make a stronger effort to constructively engage with Spanish-language media" in an effort to promote more fair and balanced coverage.
MRC Latino is "an effort of inclusion, which recognizes the importance of Spanish-language news outlets," said Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the American Principles Project's Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles (APP
), which co-sponsored the event with MRC.
Although most Latinos in the U.S. believe in the values of hard work, personal responsibility, and the central role of church and family, these conservative values are seldom championed in the news shows they watch, he pointed out.
One exception was the two networks' favorable coverage of the Catholic Church, the MRC Latino study found, with 52 percent of the stories about the church positive, compared to 17 percent that were critical.
"Hispanics are conservative, but you don't see that reflected in the media," Aguilar said.
Panelist Daniel Garza, executive director of the Libre Initiative
, agreed, noting that conservative Hispanics are an "invisible minority within a minority" on Spanish-language programs.
"Hispanic media need to be held to the same standards as English-language media," Aguilar stated. "We don't need to pander to them like the left does. We can win them over with our values and ideals."
Aguilar told CNSNews.com that there is a cultural rift between new arrivals to the U.S., who tend to be more conservative, and what he calls "the Old Line Latinos, who were the victims of identity politics in the 1960s. We're never going to convince them, but their numbers are dwindling."
When asked if the newcomers would accept Sen. Paul's piecemeal approach to immigration reform, he told CNSNews.com: "Yes, but they have to do it."